Vermicomposting ensures better soil, helps plants thrive

Worms

by Zada Clarke

Worms

Nina Carelli

Composting worms are not burrowers, but rather specialized surface dwellers, so they can be found living in soiled areas like compost heaps.  

“Eat it, come on I dare you,” the kid sneered, folding his gangly arms and pointing to the squirming grey specimen that lay in a puddle in the dirt. I stared at its wrinkled skin, moist and slimy, crying out in disgust, and went running towards the swings on the other side of the playground.

Worms: although they may spark in you the desire to squeal and run in the other direction, they are in fact very intricate, delicate critters that, although they may not look it, are very beneficial to both yourself and the world’s well-being. I am referring to a specialized composting process typically referred to as “Vermi-composting”or “Vermiculture.”

Basic composting involves the aerating of soil and the conversion of organic matter into compost. Toss in a couple hundred crimson-hued “Red Wiggler” worms and you have a vermicompost. The addition of these worms not only speeds up the composting process, but the worm castings (worm manure) enrich the soil with nutrients. These worms have a mysterious little gut that produces castings that contain eight times the nutrients of the food that went in. Plus, all pathogenic bacteria’s are killed in the process. The worm’s gut also promotes the growth of fungus, which, along with the rich nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) that are created, is very beneficial to plant growth. The resulting soil is the texture of coffee grounds with a perfect pH balance and can be either mixed with other soil for plant- pots or added directly to plant beds.

Why in all the world would you want a steaming bin of slimy worms sitting in your home? Food waste and residuals accounts for 14 percent of the U.S. solid waste stream, which translates into 33 million tons.

This waste is thrown into landfills where it produces the chemical gas methane, a gas that is 21 times more dangerous to the environment than carbon dioxide. These toxic gases go right into the air, the air we breathe. Although you may not believe that your tub of worms in the kitchen corner or overflowing bin of compost in the backyard is doing anything, it is one step closer to creating cleaner air and helping along nature’s cycle. Your worm compost also promises that you will have the most succulent fruits and vegetables around.